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Wildlife Preservation Efforts Underway

 
Covington, VA (May 10, 2019) - A group of landowners who are interested in protecting and preserving wildlife met at the home of Bill Wilson on Thursday, April 18, 2019, for the purpose of discussing possible land management that would help preserve and promote wildlife. Most of the landowners were from the Falling Spring Valley in Alleghany County and the southern end of Bath County, but there were also representatives of Casteel Hunt Club, which is on the southside of Alleghany County.

Collectively, there were about 5,000 acres represented. There were about ten landowners altogether and the conversation went around the room as each landowner described his own personal efforts to help wildlife and what he thought might be done to improve on those practices.

At the meeting also was Justin Folks, a Private Lands Wildlife Biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), out of Verona, Virginia. He listened to the landowners and offered brief suggestions as to what might be done, in addition to their present efforts, to create and protect wildlife. Mr. Folks volunteered to go to the property of each landowner to see for himself what was being done there and to offer suggestions as to what might be done further to encourage wildlife. He mentioned several programs which might be of interest to farmers and other landowners, including the Golden-Winged Warbler Program, the Conservation Reserve Program, and a program to encourage landowners to build fences to protect ponds and other waterways.

Those in attendance offered opinions as to why wildlife populations were down, including the dramatic increase in the coyote population, the number of bears now in Alleghany and Bath Counties and the presence of bobcats, foxes and other predators. Concern was expressed for the dramatic reduction in the honeybee population and the disappearance of the Bobwhite quail west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was noted that the grouse population was drastically down and some wondered if the existence of the game bird was in jeopardy.

After everyone had had his say and listened to Mr. Folks, the meeting was adjourned with the understanding that Mr. Folks would come back, whenever requested to do so, to examine a landowners property and offer suggestions as to how to improve wildlife habitat and do other things that would encourage the presence of wild critters of all kinds.

Bill Wilson took Mr. Folks on a tour of his property to show him various wildlife clearings he had prepared and to obtain from Mr. Folks suggestions as to what he might do further to encourage wildlife.

Marc Puckett, is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and Small Game Project Leader for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Mr. Puckett has been involved in quail management since 1992, and has traveled Virginia now for going on 24 years. Mr. Puckett sent the following comments: "In my travels, I have witnessed many examples of how proper habitat management in good quantities does bring back quail and other species. Success takes initiative and persistence as it does not happen overnight. But it is within the means of every landowner to create good habitats for multiple wildlife species. All landowners who work together to increase the total acreage involved have a higher chance of success." Anyone interested in having Mr. Folks come to his or her property for an examination and suggested programs may get in touch with Mr. Folks at (540) 569-4652, 70 Dick Huff Lane, Verona, VA 24482 or email Mr. Folks at justin.folks@va.usda.gov.
 
 
 

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